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Despite Brexit, UK 'set to increase funding' to European Space Agency

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A view over Italy from the ISS
A view over Italy from the ISS -
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While London is mired in pulling itself out of one European entity, efforts are being simultaneously made to deepen involvement with another.

The next round funding for the European Space Agency (ESA) is currently being thrashed out and the UK is set to increase its commitment.

While the UK government is attempting to distance itself from the European Union as it pursues Brexit, it is seeking to secure the economic benefits of being one of the main contributors to ESA, according to Euronews' space correspondent, Jeremy Wilks.

The UK is the fourth biggest contributor, after France, Germany and Italy. ESA is a separate legal entity to the European Union.

Final decisions will be announced tomorrow as ESA’s Space19+ ministerial council comes to a close, with member states and partners currently negotiating over funding and contracts at the conference in Seville.

The UK is likely to boost its annual funding, which is around €350 million, by something in the region of 15%, Euronews has learned.

In opening remarks at Space19+, the CEO of the UK Space Agency, Graham Turnock, said: “The UK stands ready to play a full part in ESA over coming years at all levels.”

Saying the UK is “fully supportive” of ushering in a new era in space, he said the country is “pleased there will be a rise in the mandatory science and basic activities budget”.

Contributions to ESA have a direct impact on contracts that flow back to the country that made them.

Every few years these summits are called to decide on new proposals and funding for ESA’s future work.

In Seville, ministers for space or their equivalent attend from the member states and haggle over what their nation will spend, and what they want back in return

The chairs of Space19+ are due to make a statement on the outcome of the summit at 2 pm CET tomorrow, Thursday 28 November.

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